keep my words

smug bird on giant sequoia
woman with raven hair
she laughs,
she flaps,
she calls up friends,
drafts deft in blackened
watch her wend in shadows
watch her wield her hips
watch her if you must
but never touch her lips


20: Real Toads


The Visit

Beside backyard fountdove
A new bird whiter than white
Christ’s Holy Spirit

Ad Aspera Per Aspera

Once upon a time, before the celestial sisters shared the sky coequally, there was unrelenting scorch from the one, and only because God had half a heart, he covered man with perpetual dark. All were stooped in shadows, probing for a chunk of cheese as if blind as puny newborn mice.

Time passed like smoke in a flattened box. Perhaps only the birds remembered where the roof might have been, and so the people hoped some of the robust flyers might pierce the heavy canopy.

The proud eagle was first in line, because he wasn’t afraid to fly into a starless depravity. After much hurrah he swirled around, but alas, came whirling back down. The people were vexed, but they didn’t give up.

Next in line was a bickery bird. The glaring crow clamored and clawed at the screeching night, but couldn’t reach the seam before plummeting to an unceremonious death.

The field birds were sent up to reach heaven, and they went further than the crow, but neither could they hook any light with a toe.

A little boy seized on discovering a pure thing, suggested a tiny but mighty bird try piercing the swollen sky. People might have laughed, if they had it in them, but they just sighed at the suggestion that any frail-framed hummingbird could be received by God.

Nevertheless, the people clasped their hands and prayed for light. The hummingbirds, not one to perch, took upward flight immediately. Looking for an orchard light, they beat the air gracefully in quick infinity strokes. They were unwavering in their feather-weightyness. Thin beaks pocked eternity like a needle weaving threads of light through a beautiful woman’s dress.

All the people cheered as stars and feathers flew, and moon beams illuminated near daylight smiles. Starlight took up residence in the sky, and house lamps took fire as waking eyes saw heaven. This is the reason, my friend, that the once murky darkness pours unstoppable perfect light.

This 333 word submission is for Trifectra’s prompt Light: I’ve always wanted to write a story utilizing my home state’s motto, Ad Aspera Per Aspera, meaning “to the stars with difficulty.” I plainly recall standing, mesmerized, nose to glass at my elementary school’s showcase window where the Kansas flag was displayed. I birthed this new story by pairing the old Latin phrase with some elements from a camp fire story I’ve always loved, but always seemed to tell differently from oral tradition anyway.

1a : something that makes vision possible

b : the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual receptors

c : electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength that travels in a vacuum with a speed of about 186,281 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second; specifically : such radiation that is visible to the human eye
2a : daylight
b : dawn
3: a source of light: as
a : a celestial body
b : candle

c : an electric light